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What You need to know: The series is the headline attraction of the new Disney plus streaming service. It’s also the first live action Star Wars television show. Exceptions are high.

What I liked

The Budget: Money isn’t everything, but it’s a lot. While the Netflix Marvels shows were noticeably lesser funded than its movie counterparts, this is not the case with the Mandalorian. This is a polished production that looks as crisp as an of the movies.

Nostalgia: The Mandalorian is full of nods to Star Wars’ forgotten past. Blurrgs, the ugly creatures that the Mandalorian and his Ugnaught companion ride, first appeared in the made-for-TV movie Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. Even Jon Favreau’s involvement is kind of a look back: The filmmaker voiced a character on The Clone Wars who was a Mandalorian.

Western feel: The original “Star Wars” saga was heavily influenced by the Western genre, and George Lucas had ideas for his movies that were way ahead of their time. All you have to do is look at how much he tinkered with “A New Hope” after CGI technology became available. “The Mandalorian” feels like this is what Lucas wanted and together, writer Jon Favreau and director Dave Filoni, have created a show that is a love letter to a more interesting side of the “Star Wars” universe. This side isn’t aimed solely at kids and doesn’t require a Skywalker family member to be present.

From the outset, “The Mandalorian” feels right; some things feel familiar and some things feel completely new, but it all still feels like “Star Wars.” Within the first few minutes, we’ve been inside a sleazy space bar, some bad guys have been shot, and a token speeder and its driver have been attacked and eaten by a giant sea slug. It’s everything we could’ve asked for and more.

Baby Yoda: Is there nothing Baby Yoda cannot do? He coos. He eats alien frogs that seem too big for his tiny baby belly. He saves his big, tough-guy protector who is so mysterious and tough that he doesn’t have a name or a face. The world of “Mandalorian” is hard and rough and violent, but Baby Yoda is soft and sweet and, OK, a little violent. But he’s violent in the same way puppies are when they nibble at each other during play. 

Baby Yoda’s appeal isn’t all “oohs” and “awws.” The green infant helps viewers understand a little more about the Mandalorian himself, a protagonist who desperately needs his steel exterior softened. After a standout performance last week, in Episode 3 Baby Yoda makes the eponymous bounty hunter (Pedro Pascal) seem a little more human and likable after the Mando refuses to hand over the tyke to his sketchy client (Werner Herzog). The choice adds some characterization to what’s otherwise a dull masked hero. 

What I didn’t like

Where are the ladies?: I’m not going to go through the first three episodes and count all the women that appeared(much less spoke) but come on. Star Wars is the ultimate white male fantasy but I thought we’d’ made progress with the latest trilogy. Help seems to be on the way in episode 4, Gina Carano will appear as a major character.

Facial expressions: There are none, not from the title character at least. 3 episodes in, the show is improving at showing the emotion of a man who can never remove his mask by religious decree. Fundamentally we need to see the reactions of characters especially our hero, it’s a huge weakness this show must continually deal with.

Short run times: The Mandalorian‘s premiere clocked in at 32 minutes. The second episode was even shorter(around 27 minutes). Live-action non-comedies almost always run 40-50 minutes. If the show continues on this path, the first season will total at around 4 to 4.5 hours. Which is essentially two feature length films.

Bottom Line: It’s a pretty standard show with enough Star Wars seasoning to make it fun.

Grade: B+


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